Hunters are taking more than a few chances when they venture out into the deep, dark woods. They’re often braving some seriously harsh elements, there are no other humans around them for miles (or so they think), and more than a few dangerous animals are just out of sight. Here are some thoroughly unsettling hunting tales from spooked redditors.
1. Don’t Look Down
A pack of wolves took over an area of our property. Being in a tree stand and watching one look at you, knowing the others are around, and at some point having to get down to go back to the house when it’s almost dark is terrifying.
2. Pondering the "What If?"
I didn’t see it, but hearing my dad say, once we were safely in the car, "A wild dog was stalking us that whole time" made me more than a little uncomfortable
3. Not in My House
This happened to my grandfather years ago. I guess he was out hunting and walking around in some woods, maybe 5 miles from a main road near where my family settled north of Pittsburgh. He said that he started seeing these burnt-out candles and started picking them up for some reason. He followed them for like 100 yards, and at the very end there was a circle of black candles with a hole in the ground that looked to be a grave.
He brought all the candles home and my grandma yelled at him and made him throw them away.
4. Too Close for Comfort
I almost shot my friend's dog. He seemed weirdly chill about it, but I wasn't about to keep hunting after almost blowing my favorite good boy's head off.
5. Caught on Camera
When I went hunting with my dad one time, we saw a homeless-looking guy carrying what looked like a torn cloth and a screwdriver on one of the trail cams. This cam was pretty deep into the woods, and it was no one we knew, so we were pretty creeped out to go back out there.
6. Sssstay Away
Copperhead snakes...Bow season in Kentucky starts early enough that you can run into a ton of them. I learned my lesson years ago to wait until at least mid November before venturing out too deep.
7. Under Fire
When I was a kid, a poacher must have thought I was a deer or something, and he shot a round at me. It impacted on a tree above my head. I immediately fired three shots as fast as I could, not at the shooter but in the air. In my hunting group, immediate three shots means "HELP" basically. My dad and our hunting club immediately came out to find out what the heck happened by honking the horns of their trucks, letting me know they were coming.
I basically laid on the ground until I could tell they were near the dirt road. Told them what happened and guessed it was probably a road poacher trying to get a deer, as it came from the same road. They didn't see him. It was private property and we were always very aware of who was at what location and who was hunting where.
Nobody was supposed to be in the part I was at. Scared the heck out of me. This was in the mid-90s. The reason why I don't like hunting on public property is cause of that, and I don't know the people out there.
8. Leave Every Stone Unturned
So I have two stories. First, the not-so-creepy one: I was about 20 miles out in the back country on a week long hunting trip. By myself. Woke up in the middle of the night to a bear sticking its snout into the fabric of my tent. I immediately started meditating to slow my breath and just weather the situation. Because I knew if I moved or made a run for my car I’d be a goner.
The next morning, I found some paw prints, and they were the biggest bear prints I’ve ever seen.
Second, very creepy story. I was deep in the woods this time, too. Set up camp in a very nice little ravine. When I woke up, there was a ring of big rocks around my camping area. They weren’t there when I got there/set up camp. I’m also a stout dude and I couldn’t move any of the rocks. I was raised in the woods and now I refuse to go out there without a large caliber gun, and I refuse to sleep out in the woods anymore at all.
9. Crystal Clear
I walked up on a crank lab while scouting for a hunting spot. I noped the heck out of there immediately. I had never encountered such a thing before, and in hindsight the smell should have been a giveaway. It wasn't until I was standing there, looking at what looked like a bunch of garbage under camo tarps and such, that I realized what I was looking at.
10. Start Praying
Not a hunter, but a herper. I was looking for amphibians and reptiles with a few classmates at a local park during a herpetology class last summer, when we came across 2 little wooden "teepees" and a card table covered in animal bones. It looked like we walked right into The Blair Witch Project. Each of the structures had little altars that contained more bones in jars, plants, and other weird little trinkets.
We got out of there fast and told the volunteer coordinator we were working with. We found out a while later that apparently, some homeschooled kids nearby liked to "play" in the woods, and they had most likely collected the things we saw. I understand making forts in the woods, but the structures these kids made were freaky as heck.
11. They Did Try to Warn You
I work in the utility sector, and while working remote transmission lines, I saw a sign that said "don’t enter the woods". Proceed to walk down the right of way, and notice something in the woods. It was a wooden gallows that had two dummies dressed in black that were "hung".
12. Don’t Come Into the Light
In September this year, I was hunting antelope out near the Red Desert in Wyoming. I had just shot my antelope and was walking about 150 yards out to where he dropped so I could tag and begin field dressing the animal. I should mention I'm about 40 miles from the main road, and I had not seen another human or vehicle since I got off the main road.
This area is so extremely remote it's hard to even describe. So as I'm walking out to the antelope, I look up and about 1 to 2 miles off in the distance, I see this extremely bright light zooming over the landscape and headed my way. I thought it was probably a game warden on a side-by-side coming to check my paperwork and all.
No big deal, I keep walking out and find the animal and look up, and this light dives down into the sagebrush and I can no longer see it, it was about half a mile from me when it disappeared. I also notice that I don't hear any engine if it is in fact someone on a motorized vehicle. I'm mostly confused at this point, not sure what the heck this light is or where it went.
I continue on and tag the antelope, it takes me all of 10-15 seconds to put the tag on, then I look up and I see the light traveling away from me now, and it's about 3 to 5 miles away from me and going at least 100 mph. It was really zooming way faster than any vehicle could travel over that type of terrain. Also there are no roads or anything.
I'm pretty spooked at this point. I field dressed the animal as fast as I could and dragged it back to my truck. I just had a very uneasy feeling at this point. I have no idea what that light was, although some others have speculated it was a drone. But if it was a drone operated by the game warden, why didn't he come check me out once I got back to my truck?
13. Witching Hour
Hearing animals all around you at 5 am but not being able to see a single one, especially in a tent, is like the Blair Witch and I just can't handle it.
14. Enemy of the State
My dad's childhood friend lost his life in a hunting accident. He was shot right out of his tree stand on state land. This was back in the late 1980s, when I was young. Nobody ever turned themselves in, and I doubt from the angle/caliber that they ever even found the slug. To this day, his murder is unsolved. After that, my mom forbade my dad to go hunting, and by extension, me.
I hear too many stories of people getting hammered and doing stupid things with guns in the woods anyway. I'm lucky enough now to own 10 acres of property where I can take out a deer just about every year, but I don't think I will ever hunt on state land.
15. A Terrible Trio
I came across three drunken deer hunters (from out of town) firing high power rifles into a thin stand of trees that has a park on the other side of it.
16. A Wolf Among Us
This was actually this last year. I was deer hunting with my back to a tree, sitting on a log overlooking a fairly big clearing. It was about 9 am when I heard a massive wolf directly behind me, probably less than 15 yards away. I could hear this thing panting and that just confirmed its size. I didn't move until 9:30, about 15 mins after I stopped hearing it.
When I stood up to scout around, there was a one-and-a-half inch branch snapped clean in half about three feet up. That place had been taken over in recent years, but I had no idea they were so big.
17. Don’t Need to Tell Me Twice
There is a place near where I come from that has all the hallmarks of an excellent hunting area. Nobody goes there because there is a stand of giant Douglas fir trees that are at least 300 years old, and there are boots hanging by their laces, dozens of pairs, all hung in the very top branches of the trees. It's extremely creepy and everyone is afraid of it.
It's practically impossible for a human being to have done this, and nobody has a reasonable explanation for it. Even the most seasoned hunters will tell you to stay the heck away from there…
18. Frightening Beauty
This is so minor, but it was just weird. I hunt out in Montauk, the eastern end of Long Island, NY. Those woods are uniquely, weirdly beautiful. There are sand dunes being pushed through the forest, so it's mainly oak trees, which may be 40 feet tall, but only the top 12 feet are sticking out of the ground. Branches become roots become branches again.
And they are twisted due to the wind and the movements of the sand. And then there are pops of color from holly trees. You can often see into the bay from the top of dunes, and catch a glimpse of seals playing. Worth going for a hike, even for people who just go for the party scene of the Hamptons. Absolutely beautiful and like nowhere else.
Anyway, a few years ago, I'm out there. Someone bedazzled the woods. All over the place, there are fake plastic jewels stuck into knotholes, or wedged in branches. Pearls, sparkly diamond things, hot pink reflective ones...Hundreds. Thousands. Not even directly on the paths. Who? Why? Weren't they pretty enough? People are so strange.
19. What’s That Sound?
In the woods, I heard a mechanical beep beep sound. Like the kind you hear in sci-fi movies. Kept me, my dad, my uncle, and the dog up all night with a pistol on hand. Dog was angry. Thought that maybe it was an animal, after all animals make freaky deaky sounds out there in the woods. My uncle and dad have backpacked in that area for years, and this is the first time they have heard such a sound.
So that unnerved the heck out of me.
20. Stalking Its Prey
When I was pretty new to hunting, my brother and I were up in this sort of open-ended, horseshoe-shaped canyon up in the mountains hunting elk (with bows). We both had radios so we could talk to each other. Right around the bottom of the horseshoe, the foliage opened up and I could see my brother right down below me, about a hundred yards down the canyon.
I kept an eye on him so I could match his pace, kept walking forward, when I saw something exiting the foliage that he just exited. I didn't have binoculars, but I did have my rangefinder, which has a small zoomed-in ability. I take it out, look at the thing. It's a cougar, down in a stalking stance, following my brother.
I get on the radio and tell him not to move, there's a cougar behind him, and it knows he's there. So he just stops in his tracks, didn't even use the radio. It felt like I was watching that thing for forever before it turned around and left. It's freaking terrifying that those things are so silent. Like, it was so quiet on that mountain, all you hear is your footsteps in the snow and maybe a little wind.
My brother had no idea he was right behind him.
21. Screaming Bloody Murder
When I was 15, I was hunting in the Colorado Rockies for elk. We were about 12-15 miles up a mountain, no cell service, nothing. I had been up there twice before this incident took place. I was out with my uncle when we heard a woman scream. Curious and a little frightened, we decided to head to check it out.
We were hiking over a ridge for about 10 minutes when we saw bloody clothing: a t-shirt and shorts, nothing else. No footprints or anything to indicate where the scream had gone. We hightailed it back to camp and began to pack up, it being our last two days. We packed out the next day, and went to the ranger service and gave them the location of the scene.
That was it, they asked a few questions and said they would follow up with us. We never heard anything.
22. Booze, Firepower, and Furries Don’t Mix Well
I was sitting in my tree stand with a few friends, drinking and waiting for bucks to walk by us, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a furry LARPing in the woods with his friends, trying to chase down deer. Good way to get shot, being mistaken for a coyote or bear. They spooked the deer so bad that they didn't come back that entire day.
Good thing the beers didn't run out, or it would have ruined my day. I really hate living in a town with 3 huge colleges sometimes.
23. Clever Girl
I was walking through a field into a tree line. I was about 50 yards out when I heard some terrifying raptor-like scream direct towards me. I froze and just stood there for about 20 minutes before chambering a shell and sitting down with my back against a huge tree. Didn't hear anything else.
24. A Very Close Call
Three years ago, I was hunting in Namaji State forest in MN. If you know anything about this area, there are wetlands everywhere, swamps and sinkholes litter the land, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. This land is tough and mean, and if you go in unplanned and do not mark your way out, there’s a good chance no one will ever see you again.
It was a foggy morning and the second week of deer season, and I was trailing along. I was looking through my scope, just trying to find an area where I could see more than 10 feet in front of me. Further in, I realized I was lost, and then the panic set in. I walked a little further ahead, trying to get my bearings, and before I knew it, I stepped forward and sunk.
I’m up to my forehead in mud and sinking with my only anchor being my rifle butt and barrel that just so happened to be wider than the sinkhole I managed to get myself in. My only hope was to pull myself out, and I tried for four and a half hours, screaming my lungs off for help and trying in vain to pull myself out.
But every time I would pull up, my rifle would sink lower and lower. Jumping up to yell and get a breath of air, then submerging in mud and sludge. After five hours, I came to terms with not getting out. I was going to die in a sinkhole and no one would ever find me. I just thought about my wife and mom, and how much it would hurt them to never find my body and go the rest of their lives without knowing what happened to me.
I thought of my two girls, and how I had thrown away my life on a hunting trip and that I was never going to be there for them anymore, and at that point I think I probably looked like Leonardo DiCaprio from The Revenant crawling through the snow. I was cursing and praying and cursing more, using my last bit of energy to get out.
I thought if I’m going to die, I’m going to make darn sure I exacerbate every fiber of my being before I entomb myself in this literal crud hole. Again, no luck, and out of nowhere this feeling of euphoria just rushed through my body. I was sad but happy at the same time, and understood it was my time to go.
My body was broken, I was beginning to feel hypothermia set in, and out of nowhere I felt these two pair of hands grab mine, and I slowly started getting pulled out of the sinkhole. A father and son had tracked a deer they shot to within five feet of where I sank, and to this day that deer has made me feel like a god is out there or it was my guardian angel.
Where its life ended, I was reborn and given a second chance. After the week in the hospital recovering from dehydration, hypothermia, and the butt-kicking I gave myself, I walked out of there promising myself to never take a second for granted. It’s made me a better father to my children, and a better man, I truly believe.
I still wake up at night screaming with the rage I had trying to pull myself up, sinking deeper and deeper, covered in sweat with my heart pounding, and when I do, I go check on my now three girls and I just think to myself how lucky I am to be alive. And lastly, I have given up hunting or even going into deep woods.
Maybe one day I will try again, but every time I think about it, I just start shaking, even writing this has had me in tears.
25. Irresponsible Trapping
Only thing I've seen out in the woods that bothered me was a fox in a trap. Judging by the state of the snow around it, it had been there three days. It was still alive though, poor guy. Another hunter in my party put it out of its misery. No name/address tag on the trap. Check your darn traps.
26. Couple’s Quarrel
I went quail hunting about 10 years ago with my step-dad and his friend. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere next to the Colorado river on the California side. We thought we were alone, and one night we hear this girl screaming in the distance. It startled us, so we grabbed our shot guns and walked toward this screaming.
We roll up on this camp about a quarter of a mile away and it is this guy and—we presumed—his girlfriend. She is visibly distraught. He about crapped his pants when three guys roll up with shotguns. We ask if everyone is ok, and she just was looking at the ground and said she was fine and they were just having an argument.
The next morning, we wake up at like 4am to start the day’s hunt, and we walk past their camp to check on them again, and they were gone. We never heard them leave. I hope that girl is ok.
27. Sadness Transcends Species
I used to hunt with my grandfather when I was in middle school. I shot a doe (female deer), and then I had to watch a fawn run over (I didn’t see it before) and start yelling and what looked like mourning. Kept trying to wake up its mother. One of the saddest experiences of my life. Will never hunt again.
28. Beware the Mountain Men
When I was younger, my dad told me this story from a hunting trip he went on in the Appalachian Mountains. He spent the majority of the day without seeing a thing, and was ready to pack it up and leave when a Whitetail deer showed up. He shot it, but it ran away and he had to track it down. About half an hour later, he came across the downed animal after following a very distinct blood trail.
Shortly after he began field dressing the deer, a group of four armed guys in regular clothing walking through the forest approached him. He always describes them as mountain men when he tells the story. Anyways, one of the men told my dad that the deer was their kill, and that he should leave. My dad, never one for confrontation, argued that he had just shot it, and that he followed the blood trail all the way to the deer.
At this point, the men unslung their rifles and pointed them at my dad, telling him that these are their mountains and that they'll be taking the deer. They made claims that people have hunting accidents all the time, and how unfortunate it would be for him to have one. He left and called the authorities, which resulted in the responding officer telling my dad that there was nothing they could do about it because they don't want to have a fight on their hands with the locals.
East Tennessee, ladies and gentleman.
29. Restless Spirits
My husband used to go hunting in a remote part of our state. Back in the 1800s, the militia came through there and slaughtered a bunch of Mormon missionaries. He said he’s heard screaming and the sound of footsteps. He doesn’t really believe in ghosts, but he said that’s the closest he’s been to feeling something paranormal.
He actually took me out there a few months back, before he told me all the stories, and it was really creepy and I felt dread the whole time we were there.
30. Coyote Ugly
I was walking down a trail to my stand one day, with really dense scrub brush on both sides. On this particular day, I left my mag at camp, so I had one in the chamber and the rest in my pack. As I'm walking, I start hearing movement off to my right. Then to my left. First one, then two, then what sounded like six.
I caught a glimpse of fur here and there, but I had no clue what it was. I slowly stopped and realized that I had been surrounded. Right at that moment a coyote stepped out into the road and our eyes met. I figured it was probably best if I started the conversation, so I took aim at the coyote, hoping that one shot would scare them all.
I think it was surprised by what it saw, because the coyote let out a yip and turned tail, and they all scattered. I was happy to not have to shoot it. I now carry my pistol with me too.
31. Cabin in the Woods
An old, half-collapsed shack near where I was sitting. There was snow on the ground, the shack was diagonally behind me to my right, maybe 20 yards or 30 at most. It was about 4:00 am, so it was still dark. As I'm sitting there enjoying the peaceful yet creepy silent morning, I hear footsteps. Crunch crunch crunch in the snow, then thump thump thump as it hits what's left of the shack.
It sounds like a person walking, so I assume it’s my brother or uncle trying to scare me because we were always joking about the ghost/demons that haunt that shack. So the footsteps keep on and on, like someone is walking back and forth on the shack floor back into the snow and vice versa. After about the 4th pass, I wait till I hear the first snow crunch then turn on my flash light, aiming it perfectly at the old shack.
I can still hear the snow crunching just yards in front of me, yet I'm looking at nothing but half a shack and fresh snow. Still gives me chicken skin thinking about it to this day.
32. Becoming the Hunted
My brother and I realized we were the ones being hunted once. Overwhelming sense of foreboding and beyond silence, no bird song or insects chirping, nothing was there except this presence, above and oddly behind us, the whole time we were out. Light started to fade, and we hadn't seen a thing (plus were completely on edge by now) so we turned in.
We stopped to glass a dam on the way back and check for animal signs (lots of deer wallows and tree scratchings, loads of tracks in the mud by the dam). Anyway, to cut it short, we found the biggest feline footprints we have ever seen, about the size of my fist (less the claws) surrounding the dam. We were in its kitchen and it was not happy.
We were also in Australia where there are no big cats...
33. Lucky to Be Alive
I've got one good one. I have a hunting spot that I frequent. Not crazy far off the grid or anything like that, terrain is a pain in the butt, but it's a pretty hidden spot that is close to my house. Anyway, I hunt a lot of small game there and see a ton of mule deer any time I go out. One morning, I get there about 5:30am and have some time to kill before I start my hike in.
I have an odd feeling in the parking lot, but just chalk it up to too much coffee on an empty stomach giving me anxiety. So, I decide to start hiking in, and about 300 yards into my hike I notice this pile of downed trees/branches/general debris that I hadn't seen before. It was my first time hunting this particular place this particular season, so I figure some folks came out and did some fire mitigation work.
I don't pay too much attention to it until I notice there's an odd amount of movement coming from it. Pretty small movements, but it sticks out when a brush pile is wiggling on a still day. It was also about 5:45 am, and the wilderness just sort of has this stillness to it at that time so that any movement is noticeable.
So, I stop and start examining the pile to figure out what's going on. I figure there's a rabbit in there, maybe some squirrels. I figure I've hit the jackpot and I'm definitely about to bag something. I start deciding the best way to flush whatever is going on in there and still have my shotgun up in time to take a good shot.
I realize I'm standing by a decent sized branch, and my best move is to just stomp on the branch. If all goes according to plan, everything will freeze, then whatever is in there will dart out. I try to figure out where the rabbit will come out of, get ready, and BAM I stomp on the branch and snap it in half. The pile goes still, and that stillness and quiet is back.
Then, a mountain lion, with a bloody nose and mouth, pops up out of the pile. At this point, I'm about 10 yards from the pile. I really don't want to shoot the lion. I also don't want to fire a shot off in the air to scare it, because all in all this was a pretty cool experience that very few people get to have.
It froze and was looking at me very quizzically. Then, in one quick motion, it hopped out of the brush pile, ran up hill, got about 40 yards from me, and disappeared into the trees. I've never seen something cover 40 yards uphill in such a fast, graceful way. One of the cooler things I've ever gotten to experience. I went to check out the brush pile when it left, and sure enough it was feasting on a mule deer.
Still my favorite out in the woods story I ever tell.
34. Bear-ing the Great Outdoors
I was being watched in the woods. It was the strangest feeling. I got paranoid enough that I began walking all the way to where I knew a park warden was stationed. After about 100 meters, I turn around to make sure I wasn't being followed, and I see three bears smacking my stuff around. One bear was standing up in the middle of the access road staring right at me.
35. Midnight Madness
Camping alone in the middle of Missouri the night before turkey hunting. The place I found was a fairly well-used campsite, but no one was there. I was about to go to sleep when I heard a truck come up. I find a reason to come out (use the restroom) so I can get a look and maybe even ask for some good places to spot turkey.
It’s a dude and his girlfriend drinking beers and going for a ride. They are super nice. but they mentioned after our chat and before leaving "watch yourself out here...lots of [ice] heads and they won’t stop for bird shot. Want a slug? I probably have a few in my tool kit". I did not sleep at all that night.
36. Sly Devil
When I was younger, hunting in the woods with my dad, we got to the woods just before dawn when it was still dark out so we could get in our tree stands. All of a sudden, we hear banshee screams from a bush a few feet from us. Turns out it was a startled fox. That day I found out the answer to "What does the fox say?" Demonic screeches...
37. Morbid Reality
I went hunting with my cousins in Michigan when I was 13. They lived there and went hunting quite often. My only vision of hunting was what I’d seen in PG13 movies and the game Duck Hunt. We saw a deer, and they told me to go ahead and take the shot. I did and hit him quite good. Or so I thought. When we got closer, we saw that I hit him in the lower back.
There was a lot of blood, and he was in a lot of pain (for the few seconds before my cousins put him down). Looked nothing like it did in the movies, and that image stuck with me forever. It’s not like I’m a vegetarian now or anything, but just seeing that was quite surreal and makes you take a hard, long thought about animals and the pain can they endure because of humans.
38. The Cold Claims Another
Not me, but my father. He was in his early 30s deer hunting in the 1980s. He was a few miles out from the main road when he came across a frozen human body. Immediately hiked out and called the authorities. Apparently a few miles away, there was a camp for the mentally challenged, and a woman had run off and gotten lost. My dad never did go hunting again after that.
39. Oh Deer
I can’t explain this, but we were hunting 25 years ago and we found a white tail deer frozen into a river by his feet. Where it gets weird is this animal was cut in half . His rear end was missing, but it was how clean the cut was. It looked like it had been done with a band saw. Also, the animal had been gutted like it was cleaned out with an ice cream scoop.
Completely cleaned. No blood trail, no guts, just a half a deer frozen in the ice, eyes wide open. Missing its entire backside. I’ve got no explanation for this, and I really don’t even want to think about this anymore as we still can’t fathom what happened.
40. Don’t Trust a Man Who Brings a Glock to the Woods
My father and I were following a trail for a while, so we decided to take a break and catch our breaths. I sat on a log off the trail, and my dad stood on the edge of the trail waiting for me to get up. I hear some movement and scan around, and I see a man dressed casually, walking quickly down the trail with a Glock in his hand.
He is not really following the trail, he is just walking toward my dad with haste. Before he comes up to my dad, he asks if he's seen anything (pretty normal). I keep an eye on him because I don't believe he was there to hunt, I think he was there to make sure my dad hadn't seen anything he wasn't supposed to.
He wasn't dressed like a hunter, he didn't walk like a hunter, and it was deer season and he decided he would take his Glock out to get a deer. I wasn't buying it, so I put a round in the chamber and watched them talk. He seemed to be confident until my dad mentioned that he was here with me and gestured in my direction.
I nodded and made a half wave. After that, he seemed to lose interest in us and ended the conversation shortly after. He turned around and walked back the same way he came, just about as fast as he walked up to us. It worried us a bit, but we continued on. We haven't been back to that area in a while. My dad told me that there have been busts near that area in the past.
This isn't a supernatural tale, just an experience that made me not want to go back to that area.
41. Who Let the Dog Out?
A long time ago, my grandparents bought a small cabin in the woods in Pennsylvania. Once when my dad, uncle, and aunt were all little, they were sitting around a small fire, and they heard branches breaking and footsteps coming from the darkness. They thought it was a black bear because it was close but they couldn't see it.
It seems to be going straight for my uncle, the littlest of the children. He starts panicking while everyone tells him not to move. Now this big black beast is within arm's reach of him, and he's shaking like a leaf with his eyes closed. All of a sudden, it opens its jaws and starts licking his face. It turns out that the next property over is owned by a couple who raise Newfoundland dogs and one of them got out.
42. Getting to Know the Animals
I go backpacking and fishing quite a bit. I have an irrational fear of bears, and waking up to bear tracks around my camp was quite unsettling, and I did not spend much more time in the area. I’ve also had a creepy encounter with an overly-friendly deer. I was in a pretty isolated area, so I thought it was odd to see a deer that was so calm around humans.
This deer would not leave me alone; it walked around my camp all day and came back at night to scare the heck out of me by laying down outside my tent.
43. Leave It to the Beaver
I went on a camping trip about 10 years ago, and in the middle of the night we heard this incredibly loud "SMACK" way out on the water. Water carries sound really well, so it woke us all right up. My first thought was some inebriated/deranged person popping shots out over the lake, and the sound was a slug skimming off the surface.
Turns out it was a beaver that smacked the water before diving under. It happened again in the early morning, and we laughed it off, but the notion of being out in the middle of nowhere with some homicidal jerk taking potshots at you creeped me out pretty good.
44. Getting Into a Frightened Moo-d
When I was 12, I was looking for bottles in a creek on a dense, forested hillside. I heard heavy footsteps behind me. They're slow and sound heavier than a human or even a buck. I almost get paralyzed when I turn around and see 2 holes on a rough leathery bump. A few seconds and a heart attack later, this creature’s nose was a few inches from my face. It turned out, however, that it was just the neighbor’s cow.
45. The Mystery of the Vanishing Vehicle
My buddy and I decided to do a Halloween ride up a supposedly haunted trail at night. As we were making our way back to the main road, I see a car parked to the right side of the trail with the lights on. I thought it was kind of weird that I would see a sedan parked in a dirt road so far out in the middle of nowhere.
We pull ahead of the car and stop our bikes. When we look back, there was nothing. No car. Just darkness. I could see how wide my friend's eyes were from inside his helmet. I asked him if he saw a car parked to the side. He said yes. Then I got the most uncomfortable chilly feeling, and my eyes began to water.
I felt like I was going to cry, and I felt every goosebump on my skin. I remember the sound, or the lack of it. No animals, no insects, I just heard the ringing in my ears. My friend told me that we had to leave, but I couldn't move. I think I was in shock or something. He told me again, and this time I heard the fear in his voice, he sounded like a little kid.
We both hopped on our bikes and rode as quickly as we could back onto the main road.
46. When Nature Calls, I Guess
In Illinois there aren't many predators, but the scream of a bobcat nearly made me soil my pants.
47. Stranger Danger
In my experience, the creepiest thing you can see out on the trail is a sketchy person or a drifter. I was on a weekend hike with a friend, and we came across a man standing just off-trail staring at us as we approached. I offered him a greeting. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I got absolutely no response.
He had cold eyes and was just generally spooky. We were pretty far out from the nearest town, and he had zero hiking gear. Normal clothes that looked clean enough. We passed him, and kept trudging on up the trail. I glanced back over my pack, and the guy just turned and walked into the brush. Suffice to say, we stopped hiking in that area.
48. In the Dog House
I was hiking in New Hampshire, and as me and my group were descending, we passed a family with a dog. We were in a groove, so we just continued past them as they were standing off to the side of the trail. But as we walked by, they appeared to be holding hands around the dog in a prayer circle. I heard the (I'm assuming) father say, "Lord please, do not let this dog kill again".
I have no idea what was up with this dog.
49. Bears Are More Scared of Us Than We Are of Them
I woke up to a bear licking my face. I screamed, he screamed. We parted ways mutually.
50. Tales From the Guy Living in the Bus
When I was a kid, we used to camp down by this river. It wasn’t an official campground. On the way down to it, there was an old school bus with some creepy guy living in it. He used to tell us stories of seeing lizard people coming out of the cliff sides in giant bubbles to visit him, and of some wild river monster that would eat our toes. It creeped the heck out of me as a kid.
51. Chanting Crows
Back in 1976, my family spent a few weeks traveling around eastern Canada and camping in a tent-trailer. One night, we were in a campground out in the middle of nowhere. During the night, we kept hearing what sounded like people going "oooh oooh oooh" right outside the trailer. It almost sounded like humans trying to imitate a monkey.
Scared the living heck out of us. Anyway, it turns out it was a flock of some kind of crow. They sounded super creepy, though.
52. A Creep With an Axe
This was at my little sister's Girl Scout camping trip I was chaperoning. No boys allowed—just little girls, their moms (or in this case, older sisters.) So imagine our surprise when this guy just shows up at about 11 PM with an axe. He wasn't inebriated, but he just seemed off. And plus, he had an axe. I would assume he was going to do some wilderness-y thing with it, but he had no other equipment.
No other supplies. Not even a backpack. Just some dude at nearly midnight in a Girl Scout camp with an axe. We yelled at him to leave. He stood around for about half an hour, and we considered calling the authorities just because it was weird and shady to have this middle-aged axe man staring intently at an off-limits campsite of 11-year-olds.
Then he vanished. It was strange. We told the owner of the campsite, and he never found anything.
53. Drunken Escapade or Ritual Sacrifice
I grew up in a pretty rural area. My friends and I would play in the woods behind our house. There would be weird stuff back there all the time. Like one time, we found an old rusty birdcage. Usually we would stumble upon vast quantities of empty booze bottles, and moldy copies of adult magazines.
One time, we found an empty bonfire with an animal skull laying on top of it, along with various booze bottles. This freaked us out, and the villagers thought we had Satanist worshipers. If anything, it was probably a group of people who had way too much to drink at a forest bonfire, and someone found an animal skull and put it there at the end of the night as a joke.
54. Caught With Your Pants Down…Literally
I was up in the North Cascades, about a day or two from civilization. There's a latrine up there that's basically a box with a toilet seat on top in the middle of a meadow—no cover at all. I'm using it for the usual purpose when something large starts moving around and making noise in the treeline. Let me tell you, you don't want to hear that with your pants around your ankles.
I finish up quickly and get the heck out of there. No problem, probably a deer or a large bird, but that's about as vulnerable as I've ever felt.
55. Nothing Scarier Than a Clown
When I was 17, my group of friends had a habit of driving 20 miles out past anybody coming to save our dumb butts. If there is cell signal or you can walk to town, you're not actually camping. Anyway, we had set up camp, got everything out where we wanted it. The sun was going down, and we were roasting various camp foods.
And then a clown, with the squeaky red nose and all, just comes walking out of the darn tree line and sits down at our fire. And of course, I peed myself. We all did. We left everything, probably thousands of dollars worth of camping gear. We just hopped in the truck in our wet pants and rushed over to sleep on the couches at one guy's house.
To this day, 13 years later, nobody will admit who set that scene up.
56. A Helpful Tip for the Outdoors
I was hiking in the black hills in South Dakota. This was my first time hiking, ever. It should also be noted that I was not very outdoorsy at the time, having lived in Miami my whole life. Anyways, I was hiking and I saw a male buffalo on the trail. Buffaloes can be pretty aggressive, and they are so big that that alone scared me.
One of my friends gave me a plastic supermarket bag and told me that elk get scared if you shake the bag because they think it's a rattlesnake. I got behind a tree and shook it as hard as I could. Turns out buffaloes fall for the plastic bag trick too, and the thing ran off. I never went hiking without the bag ever again.
57. The Things We Can’t Un-See
I was once hiking in rural Kentucky when I stumbled across a cabin. I knock on the door, hoping someone there can give me directions back to the closest trail, so I can get back to my car. Unfortunately, no one answers. I look through the window and see a very basic cabin, but the creepiest thing I noticed was a bed with leather restraints at each corner and a dog leash wrapped around the top of the headboard.
Got my butt out of there in a hurry.
58. Someone Has a Really Disturbing Hobby
I was out on a hike and I noticed some deer bones on the side of the trail. I thought it was odd, but there are lots of deer out here, and it's not uncommon for them to be taken out by a cougar, bear, lynx, or a myriad of other predators. Then I saw a hipbone in a tree. Later, I saw the severed head had been neatly placed on another tree.
Throughout my hike, someone had physically placed parts of a fresh deer carcass all over the trail and throughout the trees. It was pretty darn unsettling.
59. An Unsettling Sight
Last deer season, I hiked with my dad and a friend to a spot where there had been a plane crash a few weeks earlier. It had been completely cleaned up, but you could tell where they had dragged everything out. Just an opening in the trees and a little tape let you know where three people lost their lives.
60. One of the Worst Things You Can Hear While Camping
My boyfriend has sleep paralysis occasionally. One night while camping, he's passed out and I'm halfway asleep when he makes a noise suddenly. I woke up startled, and wait for a few minutes when he suddenly jerks awake, sits bolt upright, and says in a very serious, matter of fact voice, "Someone is trying to get in the tent".
There was no one around, and after a freaked out moment, I realized he was hallucinating. It was still the freakiest thing to hear in the middle of the woods at 2 am, though.
61. Bears Are Not Always Cuddly
My father got turned around hunting in northern Maine about 15 years ago. Getting lost in the Maine woods is no joke, you could end up in Canada before you even reach a road. So after walking for about a half hour, he comes across a torn apart moose carcass and bear prints as big as his head. Bears are no joke. He was clearly close to its den, and with only a .30-30.
If that bear had seen and charged him, my dad would have been easily maimed.
62. Trees Don’t Always Look Like Trees
I grew up in the countryside amongst miles of woods. Some days after school, I would walk through the woods with a BB gun. Sometimes I felt like I was being watched by something, so I would always turn around and go back home. Nothing ever happened. I remember though, sometimes walking in the woods, my eyes would play games with me. A fallen tree that is slightly angled looked like someone standing.
It definitely scared me a few times.
63. Another Reminder Not to Mess With the Bobcats
When I was in my teens, I was fishing with my dad at a lake that was a short hike—but not that short—through the woods. It got dark, and we started to walk back home, and something in the bushes right next to me growled at me. My dad said it was probably just some deer, but I of course knew that deer don't growl like that.
Turns out it was a bobcat.
64. Escape From the Mountain Lion
After helping my dad and my brother quarter a big bull elk in the middle of nowhere, I went up the hill first because I had the lightest load. I figured I'd get my quarters to the top and then go back down and help my dad with the chest cavity. It had just stopped snowing, and when I was resting at the top of the hill, I glanced down and saw paw prints in the snow.
I knew based on the size that it was either a wolf or mountain lion, but after looking closer I realized I just saw pads on the foot and not nails/claws making a mark in the front of the print. This meant I was definitely looking at the tracks of a big mountain lion, who had been 50 yards from us as we worked on the elk.
My dad was at the bottom of the hill, I had a front quarter on my back, and a hind quarter on the sled I was pulling behind me, and no gun. I knew it was just three of us and I'd be around my dad the whole time, who was armed, so I didn't bring an additional firearm. Basically, I was a walking buffet standing right where the cat had been a few minutes before.
There's no question he was looking at me. I calmly set the quarters down and made my way down to my dad. He agreed that I should have done what I did, and even joked about it, saying, "at least our load won't be as heavy when we get back up there, I bet he took the front quarter". We got back up the hill, and my quarters had been untouched, with no additional cat tracks around it.
All three of us were paranoid as heck walking back the two miles to the truck, not knowing if at any moment the cat might decide he was hungry. We made it back home just fine, and laughed about the whole thing as we were cleaning and butchering the elk.
65. A Tragic Discovery
A friend's cousin was hunting by himself deep in northern Ontario woods, and came upon his own uncle's body, hanging on a rope. He had taken his own life. That was and still is the most messed up story I’ve ever heard. He had to walk back many miles to get help to go back in the woods to cut him down.
66. A Big Sigh of Relief
My girlfriend and I were backpacking through Yellowstone, and this was our first time in Grizzly country. We don't mind black bears, but Grizzlies are something else. Anyway, after a long day of hiking we set up camp for the second night. We washed up, had dinner, hung our scented items and food, and got in bed.
Deep in my REM sleep, my girlfriend shook me awake, terrified because she heard growling. She was convinced there was a bear in our campsite. I immediately woke up with adrenaline pumping, in full-out fight or flight mode, and grabbed the bear spray. As we sit there for a minute in complete silence, we hear the growling again; it was my stomach.
To be fair, it was one of the more intense stomach growls I've had.
67. Mysterious Suitcase
My family owns a couple hundred acres of forest in Eastern North Carolina. No one lives on the property anymore, and hasn’t for the last six or seven years. We went down there to do some target practice in October 2017, and I decided to go walk through the outskirts of the woods to locate a good limb for our range marker.
As I’m walking, I come across a fairly nice, but practically brand-new looking suitcase, full of clothes and other personal effects. No ID, nothing with any sort of identifying markers on them. But seemed to be clothes for four people: two kids and two adults, one male and one female. It also had some food, coloring books, etc.
I set up a trail camera and left it there for three weeks, and never saw anyone. For reference, this is 35 miles from any sizeable town or city.
68. Out Like a Light
I do a fair amount of archery hunting when the weather permits, and trap rabbits about 3 times a year, but I think the craziest thing that ever happened was I was following some deer tracks (I had been tracking the herd for a couple days), not planning on bagging one, I just like to observe. So I'm hauling around a tree stand, my tent, and bare essentials.
Before my pup got cancer, I would bring her, but she’s in chemo so it was a solo trip. I generally let her tell me when I wasn't noticing something, but without her it got fairly creepy pretty quick. I notice I'm losing the light and rub my face in frustration. And then I am suddenly waking up. I was just. Laying down. With my tent and everything all set up.
Firewood under me (ouch...) and a rip in my jacket. Nothing else to show for it except that it was WAY darker than before. I check my watch. I've got roughly 3 hours to sunrise. When/who set up my tent? They did it differently than I normally do (OK it's kinda just oilcloth and rope, I travel light) but it wasn't in my usual formation.
The zippers on my pack were ALL open, I was grasping my (sheathed) field blade in my LEFT hand (I'm right handed??!). To this day it unsettles me.
69. Chilled to the Bone
I work in the woods for a living, and I’ve seen a fair amount of odd things...Carvings in trees, old beat up cars, random weird trash scattered through the woods, and a fair amount of animal carcasses. I’ve had instances where I’ve gotten spooked, stuff like jumping big critters is always quite jolting, but I can recall one rather butt-puckering experience.
I was working with a few other people at the time, spaced out of sight but not out of ear shot. I crossed over a little ridge at least 2 miles from the closest road, in the middle of the woods, and I saw what looked like a full skeleton of a cow tied together with twigs and a little bit of twine. Whoever made it had fashioned it to be sitting on a log.
They left a very neat pile of bones in front of the thing, and nothing anywhere else. I saw it and about fainted. Definitely really odd considering how far we were off the road, and how thick and steep it was. I ended up getting the folks I was with to come check it out, really just for the heck of it. I took note of it, and we moved on to the next plots.
70. Screaming From the Treetops
One of my experiences happened on family-owned land in North Carolina where I used to live. I still hunt, so it never kept me from going again. We called it "the noise," and to this day if you ask people who live or lived adjacent to the land about it, they know exactly what you are talking about. Whatever it is was very loud and very fast.
It was like a very loud primal scream. First time I heard it, I was hunting with my dad and brother. We were stalk hunting, and very slowly and methodically moving through the forest. I noticed everything had gotten oddly quiet, and the only thing you heard was the water running over the rocks in the creek. My dad stopped us and said to hold still and not to move.
As soon as we stopped, it screamed behind us. It was so loud, it made my ears ring. My dad usually never showed fear and was always rational, but he looked very nervous and I was just about ready to soil myself. My brother had his gun shouldered and was looking around trying to spot it just to see what it was and make sure it wasn't close.
Then it screamed again, and now it seemed closer and in front of us. My dad put his hand on my shoulder and just said "run for the car, now". I jumped up like a scared rabbit and ran as fast as my legs would carry me. We are all running and we can hear this thing screaming as we run, like it's keeping pace easily.
I can see the gravel road ahead and know the car is close. It lets out another scream that sounds like it's to my left now and very close, so I bolt right and we all come sliding out onto the road about 100 yards above the car. That's when I hear this weird whistle from the woods, and then everything just goes back to normal.
Birds chirping away, squirrels calling, crows cawing. We stopped to catch our breath and uneasily walked to the car, ready for anything. 100 yards never seemed so far away. That wasn't even the last time I heard it. My family tried to find it for years to figure it out, but when we thought we were close, it would be somewhere else. Even trained hunting dogs ran away from this thing.
71. A Mercifully Early Start
I missed this trip with my dad and his hunting buddy. They were in a remote section of southeastern Wyoming hunting for elk. Like any good elk hunter, they were up at 3:30 am to stake out their spot and watch the herd patterns before daylight. As they were driving up to the spot, a figure appeared in their headlights, and by the silhouette, it wasn’t a hunter.
What was a person doing walking down the road in complete darkness with no hunting gear? My dad was driving, so he slowed to a crawl in his truck, and his buddy prepared his pistol, as this had foul play written all over it. When they could distinguish the figure in the headlights, they saw it was a girl in a tank top and underwear, wearing no shoes on.
They stopped and verbally checked her status out the window, as there could have easily been somebody staked out in the sagebrush, ready to ambush. When it was clear she was severely hypothermic and bleeding from her feet, they got out and let her in the truck cab. From there, it had to have been a terrifying experience for that girl.
I sure wouldn’t want two middle-aged rednecks picking me up 40 miles from any town. They cranked up the heat full blast and drove her to a nearby country gas station where they were regular customers and friends with the owner and his wife, who was a retired nurse. When the girl could finally articulate her words, she told them a disturbing story.
She said that she and her boyfriend drove out there to drink and get intimate. When she started having a seizure during the act, he lost his temper, grabbed her shoes, and threw them into the sage. When she got out of the car to find them, he peeled off, leaving her in near-freezing temperatures in her skivvies.
She estimated she walked about 4 miles on a dirt road before my dad found her. It’s a good thing hunters start early because she easily could have died.
72. And That’s a Wrap
I spend a lot of time in the backcountry in the winter time. Usually it’s just me and a friend, most trails we do are popular in the summer, and totally quiet once it starts to snow. Winter in 2014, we’ve hiked about two miles in and see this small black backpack in the middle of the trail. We hadn’t seen any other cars at the trailhead or any people around.
This backpack hadn’t been there long because there wasn’t any snow on it (it had snowed the night before). It was a very odd sight, and we figured if it was still on the trail when we looped around, we’d pick it up. About 4 miles in, my friend and I are chatting away when I notice a large figure flailing in some trees up ahead.
We go quiet and can hear this man rambling while he’s pacing. At this point we’re pretty freaked out, and decide to turn around when we hear "Oh, HI THERE" and this guy starts walking towards us...and then out pops another guy with a very pricey looking video camera. It turned out this flailing guy was actually a rapper, and they were filming a music video for one of his new songs out in the forest.
They had parked before the trailhead so we didn’t notice their car. They ended up being super-friendly and gave us a card, and we figured out it was their backpack we had seen on the trail the few miles before. We said our goodbyes and walked out. But hot darn, I was sure we were about to lose our lives in the woods.
73. Need a Hand?
I went camping in southeast Ohio once with my dad and sister miles from civilization. As it started to get dark, my dad and I started to prep food for the fire while my sister went to change in her tent. A couple minutes later she walks over to me and asks "Were you outside my tent?" I asked her why, and she tells me that someone walked out from the direction of the trees to her tent and placed their hand on the wall of the tent.
She smacked the hand away thinking it was me messing with her but when she came out no one was there. We tell my dad and he says he did it and left it at that. The problem was, I knew it wasn’t him, because I was with him the whole time. Later that night I asked him why he lied and he told me it was too late to go home so there’s no sense in scaring my sister when there’s nothing to do about it.
I stayed in my sister’s tent that night with a knife in hand. I didn’t sleep. We stayed for another night without incident, but I couldn’t get my mind off of the fact that we weren’t alone.
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